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What is clinical communication?

Clinicians must be able to communicate effectively and sensitively with patients and relatives, to achieve a patient-centered consultation. They need to find out from their patient what symptoms they experience, how they are feeling, what they are worried about. Doctors have to clearly explain to the patients and relatives what the diagnosis is, and what treatments might be available (or not). Together with their patients, doctors need to make decisions about treatment and management of their condition. Clinicians need to show patients that they care.

What used to be called a ‘good bedside manner’ is now recognized as an evidence-based core clinical competency.

“The patient will never care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
— Dr T Canale, orthopaedic surgeon

What we do

At St George’s we are proud of our emphasis on clinical communication in the MBBS curriculum. Alongside the teaching of examination and procedural skills, which is delivered by the Clinical Skills team, our overall aims are for students to develop the skills to achieve a patient-centered interview. As a student you will learn to find out about the patient’s illness narrative alongside the clinical history. You will learn to give information and clear explanations, and how to negotiate with patients and relatives in order to share decisions about their healthcare. We work with students to help you develop empathic practice, so you can develop a relationship of trust with your future patients.

How we teach

Students learn in medium and small groups, and you have opportunities to put new skills into practice in a safe environment, receiving individual feedback from the tutors. Throughout the curriculum we enable students to recognize the importance of effective communication with all their future patients, and diversity in healthcare is interwoven throughout the curriculum.

Learning outcomes are mapped to the General Medical Council’s ‘Outcomes for Graduates’ (2018), which informs what competencies the students are taught, and what is assessed.

Who we are

The Clinical Communication team consists of seven lecturers, who come from a variety of healthcare backgrounds. The team also offers postgraduate courses for clinicians at different stages of their career, from foundation doctors to senior consultants.


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